Trailing lobelia is an excellent choice for the edges of your covered wagon planter.

How to Make a Covered Wagon Planter

by Marta Santos

If you're looking for a fun project that you can do with the kids, consider making a covered wagon planter box. In less than an hour, you can have a whimsical and attractive yard decoration that your kids can be proud of helping to create. Your covered wagon planter will make a great rustic accent in the middle of your herb or vegetable garden, and depending on your home decor, may also be quite suitable near your front door. Shade-loving annuals work best for this project, and your kids may enjoy the Old West charm it adds to your outdoor living space.

Find Your Wagon

Select an ornamental covered wagon or purchase one that is ready to use as a planter. If you've got one that would make a perfect planter except that it lacks drainage holes, simply remove the wagon part from the canvas, flip it over, and drill four small holes in each corner. Fill the wagon with potting soil, working in several handfuls of compost to provide added organic matter. Never use plain garden soil in containers.

The size of your wagon will determine how many flowers you'll plant. Bedding plants such as impatiens (impatiens walleriana), upright fuchsia (fuchsia ssp.) and lobelia ( lobelia erinus ) grow taller the closer they are planted to one another, so be sure to leave about six inches between plants if you want them to spread out. These bedding annuals will continue to grow and bloom in all U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones until the first hard frost. Some people plant only one variety for a uniform look while others prefer to use at least two separate kinds of plants. Consider planting the taller plants in the middle and the trailing lobelia around the edges of the wagon.

Using the hand trowel, dig holes of six inches deep to place your plants in. Be sure to tamp the soil down firmly but gently after planting. Water the plants in using a soft stream from a garden hose with a diffuser attachment or a traditional watering can. Keep in mind that the plants under the wagon canopy won't have access to rainfall. Container plant roots are also competing for water, so check the soil often and apply water as needed. Water immediately at any sign of wilt.

Items you will need

  • Covered wagon
  • Hand trowel
  • Small hand drill
  • Potting soil
  • Compost
  • Two six-packs of shade-loving annuals
  • Watering can or hose with a diffuser


  • If you're using a covered wagon with a canvas top, either place it on a covered patio or porch or be prepared to move it to shelter when heavy rains occur. Although water won't damage the canvas, too much water will give it a dingy appearance.


  • If you live on in area with high humidity, impatiens may be hard to find due to a mold plasmopara obducens) that's been devastating the plant in many parts of the country.

About the Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Marta Santos studied ornamental horticulture at Clackamas Community College between the years of 1994 and 1996 and has been writing about garden related issues since 2001. As an active participant in the Master Gardeners Program, Santos is always discovering new things about the world of gardening.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/ Images